With winter comes unpleasant days, drizzly days, icy days and don’t-want-to-get-out-of-bed days. This means training, sport and exercise can be a distant memory during these cold winter months.
But we’re here to stop that happening to you! Facing the elements can in fact benefit your training so we’ve got some expert tips from some of the #HIGH5fuelled athletes.
We chat to some of the riders from pro cycling team BORA-hansgrohe, marathon champion Callum Hawkins and the Running with Us Coaches on getting the most out of your training (and even enjoying it!) when the weather is bad.
Let’s start with the benefits of extreme weather training. From an athlete perspective, Callum finds that it helps prepare him for his UK races…
“Training in extreme weather helps for simulating any type of weather you may come up against in a race. This is really important when running in the UK as you can come up with unusually hot weather but also the bitter cold of winter.”
But you don’t just have to be a professional athlete to get the benefit of training in hard conditions. Running with Us Coaches also recommend it for anyone looking to increase strength:
“There is definitely benefit in training in extreme (albeit safe!) weather. Not only does it make you very mentally strong for getting out and facing the conditions, it increases your physical strength too. Running cross country’s for example, in rain, wind, mud will increase your strength, coordination and agility which will serve you well in the later months.”
However, Sam Bennett from BORA-hansgrohe, is not convinced that the bad weather helps with his training:
“Absolutely not! The body struggles and therefore your training suffers. Your immune system is also impacted by weather extremes. Not just cold and rain but also too much heat leaves you lacking hydration and important electrolytes. It's also so important consider visibility on the roads in the rain or fog. Safety first!"
But training in winter doesn’t have to miserable, here are some top tips to make your extreme weather training more enjoyable. Apply these tips to your training and don’t neglect your bikes and trainers this winter!
1. Positive mental attitude with some goals
Okay, so positivity probably helps every training session but it’s even more paramount when the weather is bad. Combine that with goals and you’re going to be moving in the right direction. Motivating yourself to go out for a run in horrible weather can be TOUGH but if you have a goal you’re working towards, it makes it all the more easier to get out the door and get that run or ride done. After some motivation? Callum shares his thought process when the weather’s not on his side:
“I remind myself it's going to be worth it. Mind over matter always when it comes to the cold weather. I think about what it is I’m aiming for and how it will mean a poorer outcome if I don’t do the training. I try to focus on the bigger picture and it makes me train come rain or shine.”
BORA-hansgrohe riders Sam Bennet and Peter Kennaugh follow the same mentality:
Sam: You've just got to get it done! I hate a turbo session so I just have the "mind over matter" attitude. I'm Irish: We're well used to it!
Peter: Don’t focus too much on the weather, the right mindset is the best.
2. The right gear
While having the right mindset is important, practically speaking, so is the right gear. Layer up! Choose yourself good quality wicking fabrics for your clothing to keep yourself as dry and comfortable as possible. Leg warmers, arm warmers, windproof jackets, shower proof jackets, buffs, hats and gloves are all worth considering. See what works for you and what you feel comfortable in.
If you’re a runner, consider trail shoes if you’re after added grip and support on uneven, slippery, wet terrain. A top tip from a professional? Athlete Callum says “Invest in a woolly beanie hat. They are great to keep warm in cold weather!”
If you’re a cyclist it’s all about the shoe covers and layers! Pro riders Sam and Peter rave about shoe covers. Another rider from the BORA-hansgrohe team, Marcus Burghardt, takes us through his bad weather kit: “The most important thing is to dress up warm. I always wear our Sportful Fiandre jackets, long shorts, socks, undershirt and a long sleeve shirt, and take a second rain jacket with me.”
3. Choose suitable routes!
It sounds obvious, but if there are particular areas which will be worse than other areas in extreme weather (ice and snow for example), plan your route so it doesn’t pass through these. A tip from BORA-hansgrohe rider Sam: “It’s always nice to plan a little hot coffee stop along the route too.” And, a tip from us for those who aren’t coffee fans, warm up with ZERO Protect hot! Just ask the cafe to fill your bottle with hot water and add in your ZERO Protect tab!
4. Reduce the duration
A positive mental attitude, the right gear and a suitable route is great but sometimes it’s not enough. Be realistic with your training in the bad weather and don’t put pressure on yourself to ‘get it done’ anyway.
The Running with Us Coaches recommend tactical training: “If the extreme weather means being out for the planned duration isn’t going to work, you can still be really clever with your run. A 30 minute run for example, with built in blocks of threshold can be just as effective as a longer run!”
Likewise, BORA-hansgrohe rider Marcus Burghardt’s tip for bad weather training is to opt for short and intense sessions like a workout or 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off interval training.
We hope these tips help you with training this winter. You can also make it more enjoyable with some great-tasting sports nutrition. Here’s our pre, during and post extreme weather training nutrition recommendations:
Pre: Energy Gel Caffeine
Energy Gel Caffeine is a convenient, fruity gel which delivers carbohydrate and caffeine straight to your muscles during exercise. Make this caffeine gel part of your prep to boost your performance. Shop now.
During: ZERO Protect
ZERO Protect is a great tasting sugar free, zero calorie immune electrolyte drink with plant extract, and added vitamins to maintain your body’s immune system during and after exercise. It also tastes great hot! Shop now.
Post: Recovery Drink Chocolate
A delicious tasting shake for use after exercise. Recovery Drink contains 18g of whey isolate, a top quality source of protein which contributes towards muscle growth and maintenance. We recommend chocolate flavour with some hot milk as a post-workout treat! Shop now.